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Sci-Tech

Fly through Florence's fury with a hurricane hunter airplane

Soar into the eye of Hurricane Florence with NOAA's intrepid airplane.

noaaturboprop

NOAA's WP-3D Orion gets ready for Hurricane Florence.

NOAA Aircraft Operations Center

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Lockheed WP-3D Orion airplane is crewed by some brave souls. 

The plane, known as a "hurricane hunter," flew right into Hurricane Florence Monday as 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate the coast of South Carolina ahead of the storm's arrival.

On Tuesday, NOAA posted a time-lapse video of the plane's journey as filmed by NOAA aerospace engineer Nick Underwood, who described it as "probably the coolest thing I've filmed."

The video shows a thick blanket of gray clouds with the airplane's wing giving some perspective on the view. The plane breaks through into the bright eye of the storm before plunging back into the hurricane's cloud bank.

The four-engine turboprop flies into hurricanes to collect data on the churning storms. The crew gathers information on wind speeds, wind direction, pressure, temperature and humidity to help NOAA make more accurate forecasts of the storm's intensity and path.

"The more accurate and up to date data we can provide, the better those predictions will be," Underwood says on Twitter. "The better the predictions are, the earlier the right people will be warned."

A strengthening Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall on Thursday, bringing with it potentially catastrophic storm surges, winds and flooding.